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Thursday
Jul122012

Sweaty Smorgasburg

The day before I experienced the legendary pizza at Saraghina, I trekked on over to Smorgasburg for the very first time.

I know, I know...what the $%^& took me so long? I don't know. What I DO know is that I'm glad I waited. There was (and still is) tons of hoopla surrounding the Brooklyn food movement. New York Magazine dedicated an entire feature to the indie food producers of BK. And Smorgasburg is the Burning Man food equivalent, collecting many of the foodie greats into a Williamsburg lot.

When I entered the lot, and noted the aisles of vendors, my stomach squealed with delight. So many exciting items! So many things to eat! I was under prepared. Specifically, I didn't bring enough dollar bills. Halfway through I had to leave and locate an ATM so I could give these hipster foodies more of my cash money. And I did that gladly.

I first stopped at the Blue Bottle coffee stand so I could cool off (it was once again 2,320,957,2309,234 degrees) and hep myself up on their Iced New Orleans brew. It's my favorite, with a slight chickory edge, softened by a bit of sweetness. I like mine with soy milk or half and half, the lower-fat content milks do nothing for the flavor. 

Cool and caffeinated, I could now approach the food vendors.

The Greenpoint Trading Company was my first stop. I was intrigued by their line-up of spices with which they had seasoned popcorn with as samples. I selected the "El Capitan" BBQ rub. It's a complex mixture of salt, sugar, paprika, cayenne and chili peppers and celery salt with some brown sugar for a maple-y flavor. Even though it's a BBQ rub, I oven-roasted some sweet potato slices sprinkled with this stuff and some olive oil and was delighted with the results. Give it a try.

After that, I encountered Granola Lab. After sampling all of their various flavors, I selected the Strawberry Lemon Thyme. It was unique and delicious. Sweet strawberries, fresh lemon and just a touch of herbal thyme. 

Next up, Grady's Cold Brew. I love the idea of cold brew concentrates. Keep it in the fridge and doctor up your mixture. You can dilute it with either water or milk, or not.... The guys at Grady's allowed me to sample their mixture both with and without milk. To me, it was rich and sweet, like chocolate. I could drink it black, and I usually like some milk in my coffee. Since then, I've been pouring espresso-sized shots into my post-workout smoothies. Here's a recipe if you'd like to try:

What You Need:
8oz soy milk
1 shot glass of Grady's Cold Brew
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (you can use a chocolate protein powder if you're looking for more protein)
1 small banana
1 heaping teaspoon of Chia seeds (optional, but I like them for added protein)

What To Do:
Throw it all in the blender (you can add ice if you like it granita-style) and sip with a straw!

It was at this point that I noticed a Smorgas-goer carrying around a plate of teeny-tiny s'mores. I accosted him (hopefully not aggressively) and demanded to know where he procured them. Thankfully, the Mystery S'More Eater was used to this behavior (and in fact, I made similar demands of about 6 other people that day who also found it normal behavior). He pointed genially toward the S'more Bakery stand and I ambled (ran) over to partake in their marshmallow samples. I selected a to-go bag of two Black 'n' White s'mores: giant, puffy coconut marshmallows sandwiched between cake-like dark chocolate grahams, dusted with granulated sugar on one side and coated with dark chocolate ganache on the other. Toast them in up or heat in the microwave for maximum s'more-effect! Mine got a little mangled in my bag of Smorgas-goodies, but this did not effect their taste. 

Truth be told, I was not yet sampled-out. Although, I was starting to crave real food. Salt. Perhaps because it was the aforementioned 2,320,957,2309,234 degrees and my electrolytes were dwindling. To offset this problem, I visited the Stuart and Co. BBQ stand where the Bitchin' BBQ sauce samples were distributed in tiny wooden boats of pulled pork!

These guys obviously know a thing or two about presentation, being a catering company. They also know a thing or two about moist chunks of pork, surrounded in just the right amount of BBQ sauce. Their sauce is nicely balanced with a touch of peppery heat working with some sweet maple notes. I bought a jar and plan on giving it to The Box for his birthday. Along with...

Image from charlitoscocina.com ...some charcuterie! I mean, who doesn't want cured meats for their birthday? I selected the Campo Seco Dry Cured Country Sausage from Carlito's Cocina. Pasture raised pork, cured with a delicate fleur de sel. Simple, versatile and oh sooooo wonderful. I know it was hot and generally everything was melting, but this moist and salty pork did melt in my mouth. Make no mistake, I tried all their offerings, and I very much enjoyed the chorizo (hello, omlettes!) and the black truffle (I can see this as a great modification to a pasta Amatriciana).

Finally, it was time to eat. For realsies. I was hungry for lunch. But what to have. There were so many options, and mostly all of them looked good to me. As I was standing in the middle of an aisle looking lost, I saw a gent saunter by with two large pretzel bread sandwiches. YES! 

"What ARE those? And where did you get them?" I asked him. 

"They're from the Schnitz stand over there," he pointed me to my right, "I have not tried them, but I hear good things."

"Hearing good things" is generally enough for me when I'm hungry. So, I went with that and approached the booth. Schnitz offered two options, and I selected the Bamberg:

This sandwich was something special. Dark chicken meat, wonderfully juicy was thickly coated with crispy Panko breadcrumbs  seasoned with parsley. I do love a thick crumb on a piece of meat. The pickled cuke's threw in a tangy sweetness, while the caramelized onion dijon mustard was such a winner, I hardly know where to start. I do love a caramelized onion...but combined with a biting dijon flavor really makes them stand out. The whole affair is sandwiched in a Tom Cat Bakery Pretzel Roll that is buttery soft.

After my Schnitz break, I ambled the stalls for a while longer, sampling some Hibiscus Citrus Ginger Soda from Brooklyn Soda Works and some Dark Chocolate Chai "Ice Cream" (it's coconut based, so it's dairy free) from Alchemy Creamery.

Double-fisting these refreshing items, I departed Smorgasburg (regretfully, although I was out of cash for the second time) and made my way back to the L train, already planning my next trip back. This time, I'll need to take some reinforcements...any takers?

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